REVIEW: Queen of Shadows

tumblr_ofbuf92zBK1r06e19o1_400.jpgBOOK: Queen of Shadows
AUTHOR: Sarah J. Maas
PAGES: 648
PUBLISHER: Bloomsbury
MY RATING: ★ ★ ★ ★ (4/5)

Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she’s at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past…

She has embraced her identity as Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen. But before she can reclaim her throne, she must fight.

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die for her. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen’s triumphant return.

MY REVIEW:
Okay, it’s been a week and I’ve had some time to let all the events of Queen of Shadows sink in. I honestly don’t know if I’m leaning more towards a 3.5 or 4 star rating, but I’m giving Maas the benefit of my doubt here because I’m basically complete trash for anything she writes at this point.

I will say that Queen of Shadows is a refreshing book in the series after it’s predecessor, Heir of Fire, which I didn’t enjoy all that much and found a bit difficult to finish.

This book delivered on the action that was so lacking in the previous book. I feel like we’re finally getting somewhere, even if the situation seems to grow more and more hopeless.

“‘I went too long without demanding retribution. I have no interest in forgiveness.’”

Aelin is back in Adarlan and she’s ready to take back her throne. There’s a lot to check off of her to-do list. With plans to finally confront Arobynn since her time in Endovier, a cousin to save from the gallows, a crowned Prince to deal with, and a King to kill, it’s clear that Aelin has a lot on her plate.

No, there is no denying that this book delivers on all of the action.

“She was fire, and light, and ash, and embers. She was Aelin Fireheart, and she bowed for no one and nothing, save the crown that was hers by blood and survival and triumph.”

All of our beloved characters from Heir of Fire are back, with the addition of two new badass ladies. First there’s Lysandra, an old acquaintance who quickly finds herself allying with Aelin’s cause. Then there’s Elide, another young woman trapped in Morath with ties to Aelin’s past and the witches that have rallied to Perrington’s cause.Dorian’s fate left me on the edge of my seat after the events of Heir of Fire had me worried that our beloved Prince might not make it through to see Aelin conquer the world. Rowan shows up with news from Wendlyn and the relationship between he and Aelin continues to grow (leading to a whole lot of sexual tension throughout these 600+ pages). Even Manon has completely grown on me in Queen of Shadows. While I found her chapters particularly boring in the last book, I am so excited to see how she is going to play into the future of the story. I think she has quickly become one of my most favorite characters in this series.

“’Swords are boring,’ the queen said, and palmed two fighting knives.
Manon sheathed Wind-Cleaver along her own back. She flicked her wrists, the iron nails shooting out. She cracked her jaw, and her fangs descended. ‘Indeed.’
The queen looked at the nails, the teeth, and grinned.
Honestly – it was a shame that Manon had to kill her.”

And then there’s Chaol. Oh, Chaol.

I save him for last because I have a lot of thoughts and feelings where he’s concerned.

“There were perhaps only three feet between them now – three feet and months and months of missing and hating him. Months of crawling out of that abyss he’d shoved her into. But now that she was here… Everything was an effort not to say she was sorry. Sorry not for what she’d done to his face, but for the fact that her heart was healed – still fractured in spots, but healed – and he… he was not in it. Not as he’d once been.”

I was looking forward to the reunion between Chaol and Aelin, so that paragraph was pretty difficult to read, but it didn’t break me as much as this did:

“But then Chaol looked – to the empty finger where his amethyst ring had once been. The skin was soaked with the blood that had seeped into the fabric, some red, some black and reeking.
Chaol gazed at that empty spot – and then when his eyes rose to hers again, it became hard to breathe.”

Okay, at the end of Heir of Fire I was pretty sure there was no way they were getting back together, even if I am sitting over here rooting for the guy. But I also felt like Aelin had a chance to do some good thinking while she was in Wendlyn, and the whole time Chaol was pretty much indirectly fighting for her cause, so I thought things would be warm between them. But then Aelin spends the entirety of the novel basically arguing with him and blaming him for everything, and that started to really bother me. Mass kept dredging up the Nehemia situation as a way to paint him as the bad guy, and he doesn’t ever catch a break on the redemption he truly deserves.

We cannot keep blaming Chaol for everything, especially when these things are not even in his control.

Then we throw in Nesryn like a consolation prize. Sometimes it feels like Maas suddenly changed her mind about her relationship with Aelin and Chaol when she started writing Rowan, so she has to make us feel better by assuring us that Chaol still has a girl waiting for him. I don’t know, it just felt wrong.

While I’m warming to the idea of Rowan and Aelin together now, I’m still unsure. I just REALLY hated the way he treated her in Heir of Fire. I even feel like the nature of his character has changed a bit in terms of the way he was portrayed in the earlier book as well. He’s grown soft, and am I supposed to believe that it’s Aelin’s doing, when earlier he was way too proud and arrogant for his own good? He’s the big tough warrior, but now he has a soft spot because Aelin has somehow worked herself into his life?

The one thing that I DID really enjoy was the twist at the end with the King of Adarlan. Even if it didn’t play much into his fate, uncovering that little bit of information felt like a gift. I think we still have yet to discover if there is truth behind everything that was confessed, but it’s good to feel like there is some reasoning behind the madness, and I look forward to seeing how that may or may not play out.

All in all, Queen of Shadows is the Throne of Glass book I needed to pull me back into the story line, and I can’t wait to see what happens next in Empire of Storms.

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